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CMU part of historic commitment to advancing Indigenous education and reconciliation

Manitoba’s education sector units in effort to follow Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) joined five other Manitoba universities, three colleges, and the Manitoba School Boards Association in a landmark signing of the Indigenous Education Blueprint on December 18.

CMU President Cheryl Pauls (centre) with leaders of Manitoba’s universities, colleges, and Manitoba’s school boards photo: University of Manitoba
CMU President Cheryl Pauls (centre) with leaders of Manitoba’s universities, colleges, and Manitoba’s school boards
photo: University of Manitoba

Working together in unprecedented fashion, the participating institutions developed and are now committed to the plan, which acts upon the recommendations the Truth and Reconciliation Commission presented this past summer.

The Blueprint commits the participating institutions to concrete practices in order to respect, celebrate, and support Indigenous peoples, knowledge, and success.

“The story has always been told by someone else. Now it’s your turn, and today we honour that,” Elder Harry Bone said during his opening remarks at the signing ceremony.

Steven Heinrichs, Director of Indigenous Relations with Mennonite Church Canada, was in attendance to witness the signing.

“CMU took an amazing step today in the pursuit of right relations with host peoples,” Heinrichs said. “This isn’t only good for Indigenous peoples. It can help us settlers in the paths of decolonization and bring us life. I’m looking forward to seeing how CMU will grow into this.”

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CMU President Cheryl Pauls signs the Indigenous Education Blueprint alongside Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology President & CEO Paul Holden
photo: University of Manitoba

CMU President Cheryl Pauls participated in the signing ceremony on behalf of the university.

She cites a number of events and initiatives, such as CMU’s partnership with the Peguis First Nation post-secondary transition program and hosting of community forums to discuss the possibilities of an urban reserve at the Kapyong Barracks, as examples where CMU has already cultivated Indigenous-settler relationships.

“We are proud to be a part of this historic commitment,” Pauls said. “CMU’s mission statement places significant importance on reconciliation in our church and society. Through education, reconciliation can be fostered, understood, and turned into a new reality.”

Moving ahead, there will be numerous all-faculty conversations at CMU to engage the Indigenous Education Blueprint.

These conversations will identify opportunities where programs and courses can be enlivened in light of the Blueprint, particularly within Peace and Conflict Studies at CMU’s Shaftesbury campus and Conflict Resolution Studies at the Menno Simons College campus in downtown Winnipeg.

In addition to CMU, the educational partners that signed the historic Blueprint include: University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg, Brandon University, Université de Saint-Boniface, University College of the North, Red River College, Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology, Assiniboine Community College, and Manitoba School Boards Association.

BY SIGNING THE INDIGENOUS EDUCATION BLUEPRINT, CMU and OTHER SIGNATORIES COMMIT TO:

  1. Engaging with Indigenous peoples in respectful and reciprocal relationships and to realize the right to self-determination, and to advance reconciliation, language and culture through education, research and skill development;
  2. IEBBringing Indigenous knowledge, languages and intellectual traditions, models and approaches into curriculum and pedagogy;
  3. Promoting research and learning that reflects the history and contemporary context of the lives of Indigenous peoples;
  4. Increasing access to services, programs, and supports to Indigenous students, to ensure a learning environment is established that fosters learner success;
  5. Collaborating to increase student mobility to better serve the needs of Indigenous students;
  6. Building school and campus communities that are free of racism, value diversity and foster cultural safety;
  7. Increasing and measuring Indigenous school and post-secondary participation and success rates;
  8. Showcasing successes of Indigenous students and educators;
  9. Reflecting the diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures in Manitoba through institutional governance and staffing policies and practices; and
  10. Engaging governments and the private and public sectors to increase labour market opportunities for Indigenous graduates.

Media coverage of December 18 signing:
Winnipeg Free Press, CBC, Globe and Mail, The Metro News, CJOB AM 680The Brandon Sun

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About CMU

A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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Indigenous Education Blueprint Signing Ceremony

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December 18 event invitation

VIEW VIDEO OF THE EVENT

Manitoba’s post-secondary institutions and school boards are working together to make our province a global centre of excellence for Indigenous education, research, languages and cultures. Together we have developed and committed to the Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint, making excellence in Indigenous education a priority. Through this partnership, we are acting on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s recommendations, and are taking steps that will advance reconciliation in Manitoba, and across Canada.

The Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint is just the beginning of a conversation. We look forward to working with more partners and organizations on initiatives and programs that will advance Indigenous education that will translate into success for Indigenous students and families, and enhance the lives of all Manitobans.

Please join us Friday, December 18, 2015 as six universities, three colleges, and the Manitoba School Boards Association come together on Treaty One Territory and the homeland of the Métis Nation to sign the Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint.

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AGENDA

  • Emcees: Deborah Young, Executive Lead Indigenous Achievement, U of M and Wab Kinew, Associate Vice-President Indigenous Affairs, U of W
  • Elder Harry Bone
  • Honour Song – Justina McKay
  • Minister of Education and Advanced Learning, Hon. James Allum
  • David Barnard, President and Vice-Chancellor, U of M — Welcoming remarks on behalf of COPUM
  • Paul Vogt, President and CEO, Red River College
  • Ken Cameron, President, Manitoba School Boards Association
  • Student remarks
  • Signing ceremony with all Blueprint partners
  • Photo opportunity
  • Event closing
  • Feast to follow

PARKING INFORMATION

For more information please contact Ruth Shead: ruth.shead@umanitoba.ca or 204-474-6747.

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Youth Learn About Indigenous and Settler Relations at Peace It Together Conference

“A Meeting Place: Hearing God in Indigenous Voices” was the topic of Peace It Together (PIT) 2015, Canadian Mennonite University’s youth conference, which took place October 23-25, 2015.

The conference focused on making Biblical and Anabaptist themes of peace and justice relevant for today.

Seventy-five youth, youth sponsors, and pastors from across Canada gathered to hear stories from Indigenous and settler speakers, participate in acts of peace, and build new friendships.

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The KAIROS blanket exercise, facilitated by MCC Canada’s Sue Eagle and Miriam Sainnawap with MCC Canada, kicked off the national youth conference

“It was a very valuable experience to be surrounded by likeminded people,” says Marnie Klassen, a grade 12 student from Abbotsford, BC. “It was so good to have meaningful conversations in an open space—to be open to questioning with both head and heart.”

The weekend began with the KAIROS Blanket Exercise, a workshop that explores the nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. Sue Eagle and Miriam Sainnawap, coordinators of Indigenous Neighbours with MCC Canada, led the workshop, which helps participants understand how the colonization of land impacts those were here before settlers arrived.

Steve Heinrichs, Director of Indigenous Relations at Mennonite Church Canada, and his daughter Abby, shared about settler colonialism and the importance of learning the stories of both Indigenous and settler peoples.

“If you want to love someone, you need to know their story. If you want to know someone, you need to learn their story,” said Heinrichs.

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Larry Monkman, an elder with the council of elders at Winnipeg’s Circle of Life Thunderbird House speaks to PIT participants

Christy Anderson (CMU ’11) shared about the impact colonialism has on her life as an inter-generational Residential School Survivor.

Clairissa Kelly and Wayne Mason spoke about the Peguis First Nation Indigenous Transition Program that CMU is hosting this year. Kelly, Mason, and Della Mason sang ceremonial songs of healing, love, and thankfulness.

Participants had the opportunity to take part in one of six ‘acts of peace’ including: learning about seed-saving at the CMU Farm; learning about solidarity activism and creating a solidarity activism art peace; going on a prayer walk through the Canadian Museum for Human Rights; hearing from an elder at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House; visiting Indigenous Family Centre and beading medicine bags; or learning about Christian Peacemaker Teams’ work on Turtle Island.

Activities such as square dancing, outdoor games, karaoke, and a scavenger hunt provided additional opportunities for youth to get to know each other.

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PIT participants discussed how to take what was learned and apply the lessons to their daily lives

Krista Loewen, Associate Pastor of Wildwood Mennonite Church in Saskatoon, SK, says “Attending PIT reignited a passion for justice within me as a peacebuilder. I was reminded that working to build relationships with my Indigenous neighbours is integral to my faith and how I feel called to live in this world as a follower of Christ.”
The weekend closed with a sharing circle, providing participants with an opportunity to speak about what they will take away from the conference.

“I am inspired and challenged to go home to a place whose land I know it should be, to step out of my comfort zone, and to build relationships,” says Klassen.

Youth from Wildwood Mennonite Church also attended: “My youth were pushed to reimagine the history and legacy of Mennonites in Canada—most notably having to reconcile the fact that Mennonites were given stolen Indigenous land to farm and live to this day,” says Loewen.

“The youth were also challenged to emotionally connect to this topic that they had learned about in school…and hopefully use their thoughts and emotions to inspire others to consider their relationships with their Indigenous neighbours.”

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program. 

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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CMU hosts Peguis First Nation Post-secondary Indigenous Transition Program

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) is pleased to host and facilitate the first Peguis First Nation Post-secondary Indigenous Transition Program.

Designed by the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC), the 10-month program aims to assist students in the transition from high school to postsecondary education, from the reserve to an urban setting.

With the support of the Peguis First Nation School Board, 19 students from Peguis First Nation are participating in the transition program, which began in August 2015. It is the first transition program in Manitoba to occur in Winnipeg, allowing students to fully experience city life. Eighteen of the students are living on CMU’s campus.

Students from the Peguis First Nation Post-secondary Indigenous Transition Program
Students from the Peguis First Nation Post-secondary Indigenous Transition Program

“It’s an honour for CMU to work in partnership with Peguis First Nation to make this program possible,” says CMU President Cheryl Pauls. “There is significant evidence that quality of academic and life learning can be correlated directly to quality of relationships students have with instructors and peers. The cohort model of this Transition Program builds on and strengthens the relational commitments of the CMU learning community.”

The transition program includes a combination of life skills training, an Indigenous cultural awareness component, as well as university courses accredited through CMU.

“Everything they learn in this program is going to be the skills they use in the future,” says Clairissa Kelly, Program Coordinator and Student Counsellor. “It’s about setting them up for success in the future.

Drawing on the medicine wheel, the transition program offers supports in four key areas, explains Kelly: physical—focusing on housing, transportation, and physical health; social —focusing on relationship building, peer-to-peer learning, recreation, and volunteering; mental—including setting education and employment goals and meeting mental health needs; and spiritual—including cultural components and learning such as smudging and participating in a traditional sweat.

“I see this program as a way of reconciliation—an example of how reconciliation can be achieved between First Nations people and Canadian society,” says Kelly.

Through the life skills training, students will learn about their history, culture, and heritage. Guest speakers and elders will share about traditional knowledge, teachings, and ceremonies, with opportunities given for students to participate in ceremonies.

The transition program includes 15 credit hours of university courses: Introduction to Computers, Introduction to University, Academic Writing, and a two-part course on Indigenous Knowledge.

Each course has been developed from an Indigenous perspective and will be taught by instructors associated with the transition program. The courses are accredited by CMU and will operate according to CMU policies. Students will emerge with CMU credits that are transferrable to other universities or to additional CMU programs.

“My goal at the end of the program is for students to have employment—part time or summer employment—or that they are attending post-secondary education,” says Kelly.

The idea for the program grew out of observations and experience that the transition from high school to university can be challenging for students, says Wayne Mason, who helped develop the transition program while working at MFNERC.

Moving away from their supportive home community, family, and friends, adjusting to life in Winnipeg, and differences between high school and university atmospheres can sometimes hinder students’ success, explains Mason.

“We need to make changes that will help our young people to succeed and overcome a lot of those negative aspects that may hold them back,” says Mason. “The transition program is needed and hopefully we can work ourselves out of transition programs when all students can go directly from high school to university or college.”

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program. 

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2